Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts as my son heads back to Boston after the holidays January 3, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Caleb and I pose for a Christmas Eve 2017 photo.

ON THE FINAL EVENING before he left, I leaned across the sofa to wrap my arms around him. He closed his laptop, stretching his long arms up and around me.

“I want to hold onto this moment,” I said, gripping him tighter.

“I’m not going to take it away from you,” my son answered.


The downtown Minneapolis skyline. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


He was right. Only my mind could keep or release the sweet memory of our hug. After 10 days with Caleb home for the holidays from Boston, I was struggling with his departure. Hints that perhaps he could relocate to Minneapolis or St. Paul were met with a firm “no.” At least for now. So I widened the geographic range to Milwaukee, Chicago, St. Louis. Still no interest.


The 2016 commencement ceremony begins at The School of Engineering, Tufts University. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I am resigned, for now, to the fact that my son loves the East Coast. He’s in a place where, after more than four years, he feels comfortable and at home. I never thought my youngest would move the farthest from Minnesota. He started college in Fargo, but soon found the flat and windy North Dakota city and the college a less than ideal fit for him and his insatiable desire to learn, to be challenged. So, shortly after he turned 19 and following his freshman year, he flew to Boston, toured three colleges and gained acceptance to all three. He transferred into Tufts University, a stellar college that offered the challenges (and financial aid) he needed. And now he works in the computer science field in greater Boston.


I zoomed in on the Boston skyline from the patio roof of Tisch Library at Tufts University. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo spring 2016.


He’s never really said why he prefers Boston over Minnesota. Not that he owes me an explanation. I understand how a metro region with a strong tech base would hold appeal for Caleb. The area seems to me the Silicon Valley of the East Coast. Caleb has found plenty of like-minded techies in groups like Boston Indies. Several times he’s demoed his soon-to-be-released video game, Blockspell. And he’s presenting at the 2018 BostonFIG (Festival of Indie Games) Talks on January 20 at MIT Stata Center. I’m not saying similar opportunities don’t exist in Minnesota. But he’s found his fit in Boston. I need to be good with that. And I am.

Yet, a selfish part of me still yearns for geographical closeness.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


32 Responses to “Thoughts as my son heads back to Boston after the holidays”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    i am so glad you had such a long visit with Caleb. It makes the mama heart so happy and knowing that he is happy must help bridge that distance just a teeny tiny bit. it’s what we raise them to be –independent and free — but then when it happens it takes us aback that they don’t need us in quite the same way and are living their lives. But it is all part of the journey and makes those homecomings all the sweeter. Savor the memories.

    • You are right on all you wrote here. The “terrible twos” aren’t the most difficult part of parenting (although we think so while in the throes). It’s the letting go. And, yes, that is our goal, to raise them into independent adults.

      And, yes, I savor the memories and am thankful for Caleb’s lengthy holiday stay. I’m glad he got back before the major winter storm hits Boston.

  2. A sweet mom story! My 2 boys live in the area although we mainly text each other. One nice thing is that my older son and I meet for breakfast every Wednesday morning- yay today is Wednesday!

  3. Deb P Says:

    I feel you pain. Our daughter left for Boston 10 years ago. It was only to be for a year. I have resigned myself to the fact that she will not live in Minnesota again. She too, found her place. She is successful in her career, has made a wonderful support group of friends and enjoys her life. I am happy for her but it still does not lessen the tug of this Mama’s heart. I want her close. The visits are too short and I can’t wrap my arms around her enough when they happen and she too, lets me hang on as long as I want. I have heard that there will be a new airline coming this spring that will be direct to Boston daily and reasonable prices……….more visits? Hugs to you!

    • Oh, Deb, you certainly understand. Like you, the hugs are tighter, longer and Caleb welcomes that, too.

      Jet Blue is supposed to do those direct and less costly flights. I’m excited because maybe that will mean more frequent visits. This holiday trip home cost Caleb more than $500. He started taking direct flights once he started began at MIT. But when he was in college and we were paying for the trips home, he had to choose the cheapest flights, which were always connecting.

      I hope you will see your girl more often.

  4. Oh How Sweet 🙂 He will be closer one day. We are still divided – lived close to the in-laws living out west and now live closer to my family. At least both sets are retired and are able to be mobile. Happy Day – Enjoy!

    • I love how you now live geographically close to your family and before that Mr. Craves.

      I have my doubts that Caleb will ever return to the Midwest. But who knows?

    • I will visit MN, but no plans to live there again. We took 2 years to decide where to move to. Florida was not on our list until the Winter of 2014 into 2015. Went to the area on vacation and within 3 days there knew this would be home for us and have been here almost 3 years now.

      • Sometimes I wonder why I love in Minnesota, especially in the winter and this recent long sub-zero cold snap. But this is, and always has been, home. And now with a granddaughter an hour away, I wouldn’t want to leave.

        I’m so glad you two found your new happy place in Florida. And that you still return to Minnesota to visit.

      • Places have weather, traffic, people congestion, wildlife/bugs, etc. Wildfires and even earthquakes to tropical storms and even hurricanes. Some bugs here are jungle sized. Traffic explodes due to tourists or snowbirds or college life.

        We all have to find that place to call home and that makes us happy and healthy beings 🙂 Nice for you to be near your granddaughter and watch your daughter raise her as well as you being a part of that too.

      • “We all have to find that place to call home and that makes us happy and healthy beings.” Well said.

        Last evening as we were driving to and from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in rush hour traffic with light snow falling, my husband and I both commented how thankful we are that we don’t live in the metro and face dealing with such traffic congestion daily. I texted my daughter and told her the traffic was “insane.” It was, all the way to Faribault an hour out. At least nearly everyone was driving with some sense of caution, although there were your usual speeders and weavers.

      • I live in the Metro area and driving can be an adventure as well as an experience some days. I loved when people told me it takes 15 to 20 minutes to get around and there are times it does, but mostly 15 minutes equals closer to 30 minutes and 30 minutes can mean over an hour. Ha!

      • Let’s see. One plus one equals two. But not always.

  5. Valerie Says:

    So happy you were able to spend some wonderful time with your son.

  6. Jackie Says:

    Love the photo of you and Caleb, a mamma and her boy…there Is a sweet bond (at least I think) between a mom and her boy(s). Glad you had him for 10 days, I bet the time flew by. I cant imagine having a child so far away but you seem to have come to grips with it and are happy for him to be where he feels is his home. I guess that’s all we can do right? We just want our kids to be happy. You never know what the future hold, he may be back someday…. one can always hope 🙂

  7. Kathy Says:

    Very sweet post Audrey. I understand Caleb’s desire to be in Boston. I myself moved from MN to Boston when I was 21 and loved it there. I was certain I would not return to MN except to visit and my family was somewhat resigned to that as well. However after 28 years away my Mom was ill so I moved back to care for her and am still here. Though I love Boston– the history, the ocean and the proximity to mountains– when family needs you the pull to return is unyeilding. You have given Caleb the strong foundation to be the successful young man he is. Life always surprises you.

  8. Bernadette Says:

    So glad you got to spend 10 days together; it is never long enough for a mother. You gave him roots and wings; he will be fine and so will you.

  9. Brenda R Says:

    Last spring my youngest son graduated from college and was applying for jobs in different areas of Minnesota and also other states, I told him of my apprehension at the possibility of him moving so far away. He asked me what’s the difference between a 3 hour drive or a 3 hour flight. There was much difference in my mind, because a 3 hour flight would take him to an area & people I don’t know! He didn’t seem intimidated by that thought! As things worked out, he’s working in St Paul and renting a room from a friend of our older son! I am thrilled for both of us!!
    So glad you had extended time together with Caleb! Sometimes that’s better quality time than when they are close and you see them more often and feelings are taken for granted!! Hang onto that hug!!

    • I’m thankful for you that your son ended up close to home. I have one of my three in Minnesota, which is better than none. But they need to be happy and find their places in the world, right?

      As far as the three-hour drive vs three-hour flight, there’s a big difference in cost and frequency of visits, etc. So, yeah, it’s not the same. Hopefully when JetBlue starts offering direct flights b/n MSP and Boston, prices will drop and visits will come more often.

  10. melirey96 Says:

    Is only natural to feel that way with your son. What mother doesn’t wish there kids can stay near home. Spending that time together is treasure enough. Maybe one day in the near future he may relocate closer to home. Beautiful picture of the both of you. God bless!

  11. Go Grandma Says:

    My momma heart completely understands this. You want them to reach their full potential but also yearn for them to be near. Sadly it’s hard to have it both ways. Good for you for encouraging his growth.

  12. Susan Ready Says:

    Lucky you were able to have a nice long visit-and on bright side gives you a fun place to revisit. I’ll bet he was glad to escape those bitter gale winds and snow that hit his area recently. As a parent we always want out children to settle in place that makes them happy and productive.
    New Year 2018 greetings to you!

  13. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    It sounds like he’s thriving but I can understand why you want him close by. 💞

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